Is Burning Man safer than the Republican National Convention?

Talking on the telephone yesterday with a friend who thought it would be a lot of fun to attend the Republican National Convention, we both noted that we couldn’t make it because we were going to be at BurningMan and agreed that it would be safer to be there than at the Convention. We both noted how insane this thought is given that BurningMan is a giant art festival in the middle of the desert where people endanger themselves in all sorts of ways (but surprisingly few injuries/deaths actualy result).

Amongs my friends, it looks like people on the right are much more concerned about a major terrorist attack this fall than people on the left. My friend above argues that political philosophy should be predictive. So we will soon have a test of the relative predictive power of left-right politics in the US. To eliminate ambiguity, a major attack has to kill more people than fit on a single plane.

FYI, the band that worried people in this post, has been identified. Its not clear that they could not also be terrorists but they don’t appear to be right now. On the other hand, the Washington Times reports other incidents of terrorists scouting jetliners for new attacks.

Flight crews and air marshals say Middle Eastern men are staking out airports, probing security measures and conducting test runs aboard airplanes for a terrorist attack.
At least two midflight incidents have involved numerous men of Middle Eastern descent behaving in what one pilot called “stereotypical” behavior of an organized attempt to attack a plane.

“No doubt these are dry runs for a terrorist attack,” an air marshal said.

But if you read the actual contents of the article, it feels a but paranoid. The obvious problem is that it is really tough objectively to distinguish between innocent and criminal behavior until action occurs and then it is too late. I think that if we don’t take out Iran and Syria now (and suffer the casualties of an intervening war) we will see much greater demand measures against domestic men of Arab descent that will make the Japanese internment camps look PC.

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